Marysville Library Blog

Monday, July 19, 2010

How can you Organize Books?

At my house we just put some needed new carpet in our home office. This was wonderful, but it meant I had to move all of my books out, and then reshelve them again after the new carpet had been installed. I hadn’t reorganized my books since we moved into our house 20 years ago; way before I got my library degree. So what would be a logical way to organize my personal library?

Oddly enough, this was how Melville Dewey (1851-1931) started the Dewey decimal system still in use in most public and school libraries today. He had a stack of books and tried to decide the most logical way of organizing them. My own personal library veers toward my own tastes, including fictional mysteries, Science Fiction, general modern fiction, Latin American authors such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez, history and memoirs, with a smattering of other non-fiction. Dewey’s collection of books veered to his own tastes and the biases of his time as well; the most obvious is where he designated the 210-289 section to be about the different varieties of Christianity, with all other world religions (!) relegated to the 290’s. For a short explanation of the system Dewey came up with, read "The Dewey Decimal System by Alan Fowler".

Nancy Pearl, a librarian and reader par excellence has written the quirky “Book lust: recommended reading for every mood, moment, and reason”. She reads even more widely than I do, and she has her own way of organizing her reading. Her categories include “O pioneers!”, “Academic mysteries”, “Fathers and daughters”, and even funny categories like “Elvis on my mind”.

Even Hitler had his own collection of books that influenced his thinking: "Hitler's private library : the books that shaped his life" by Timothy W. Ryback. I wonder how he organized his books.

These days you can not only organize the books you own, but books you have read on such websites as or, using categories or “tags” that you create yourself. Your own library collection will skew to your interest categories. I created a category for "Historical Mysteries" since I like to read those, but you can create categories like "Scary Stories" or "Religious Reads" or any other grouping that is important to you. How do you organize your own personal library?